Insurers are starting to see the ORSA as the most valuable element of Solvency II
Michael Culligan is the practice leader for Milliman’s Dublin practice, having taken up the role in December 2015. His new role sees him managing a team of 35 consulting actuaries and while management issues (including an imminent office move) now take up a considerably larger portion of his work day, working with clients is what he enjoys most. Solvency II dominates client discussions and Culligan says that clients are starting to value the ORSA as the most valuable part of the new regulation.
6:30am: I’m up and facing the day. I try most mornings to eat breakfast with my wife Marie-Therese and our 7 year old son Carlos. If I can, I’ll cycle with Carlos to school which is just around the corner. But not today - an early meeting in the diary means MT gets the school honours and I get to cycle into the office instead. I gave up driving to work in favour of the bike about 2 years ago, and it’s one of the best decisions I ever made - I couldn’t go back now. The cycle in to the office is generally pretty stress free and lets me get my thoughts clear for the day ahead.

8.00am: There is just time to check any overnight or early morning emails before my first meeting of the day, an internal meeting with the project management team for our office move. A few years ago we outgrew our main office on Lower Mount Street and had to split our staff across two locations. We are currently in the process of bringing everyone together in a newly refurbished building just around the corner at 7 Lower Grand Canal Street. I’m delighted that we will be able to bring our 35 consultants back together in one location, but naturally getting every detail right for an office move is challenging and time-consuming. Fortunately I have a strong team around me and so far everything is going to plan. Despite the distraction and occasional stress of the move, I’m impressed at how everyone continues to excel at their day jobs. At this stage most of the big decisions have been taken and the meeting focuses on potential sticking points in the timeline, and some final IT issues that need to be resolved.

9.00am: My first client call of the day. Since taking over from Dermot Corry as the Milliman Dublin practice leader, a considerably greater proportion of my time is spent managing the Dublin practice. However, client work is still a big part of what I do, and it’s still the element of my role that I enjoy the most (as well as the one that pays the bills). This call is with a client for whom I discharge the Head of Actuarial Function role under Solvency II. Following successful completion of the Day 1 and Q1 reporting, attention is now turning to ORSA (Own Risk and Solvency Assessment) work and we have a conference call with the key players to discuss timing, process and potential scenarios to present to the Board at a kick-off meeting later this month. Of all the changes brought about by Solvency II, I think the ORSA is probably the one that clients are starting to value the most. With its combination of financial projections, risk management techniques and strategic insights, I also find that the ORSA is an area where we can make a valuable contribution and ORSA work is becoming a significant workstream for us in the Milliman Dublin office.

10.00am: I grab a quick coffee on my way down to our second office down the street where I have a meeting in the diary to get an update on operational issues. Finance, HR, Marketing and IT are the main issues on the agenda. For me, one of the attractions of a job like this one is that, as well as interesting and varied actuarial work, we also have a business to run, with the same operational issues that any small or medium sized business would face. This gives a great combination of entrepreneurial challenges in terms of our own business and a wide range of client issues, from big ticket M&A transactions, to helping smaller companies with outsourced actuarial services. I’m particularly interested in the marketing update today as we have a debrief on the recent Insurance Europe conference which took place in Dublin. Milliman was a platinum sponsor of the conference and we worked hard with the wider Milliman global team to make sure we had a good presence at the conference. Our virtual reality display at the Milliman booth was a popular talking point and was a great success in creating opportunities to make new contacts. The conference provided a great opportunity to network not to mention a good chance to find out the latest industry gossip!

11.30am: And I am off-site with my colleague Karl Murray. We are in the office of one of my clients to talk about their plans for implementing the new PRIIPs requirements. The timelines for PRIIPs implementation are tight (to put it mildly) and it is something that a number of my clients are grappling with. This client has a particular challenge in relation to its portfolio bond business and much of the meeting is taken up with consideration of potential options for addressing the new requirements in a practical and efficient way. One of the main challenges in a consultancy is keeping on top of a constantly changing regulatory agenda. We have invested a huge amount of time and resource in becoming experts in a wide range of Solvency II issues, but PRIIPs, IFRS 4 Phase 2 and a host of other upcoming regulatory changes demonstrate how quickly the landscape can change and how important it is to be always one step ahead.

12.30pm: Lunchtime normally finds me either meeting a client or industry contact for lunch, or eating a sandwich at my desk while catching up on emails. Not today though. Once a week I attend a lunchtime pilates class. I’ve suffered badly for years from a bad back - a bad back and banging your head off things are probably the two biggest drawbacks of being tall. I had tried a host of different solutions without success until a friend recommended pilates. One hour per week has worked wonders on my back and it’s pretty good for relaxing the mind too. By 2pm I’m back in the office and feeling pretty zen. I have half an hour to catch up on emails and calls before my next meeting. Hopefully the emails don’t ruin my zen.

2.30pm: I have an internal meeting with Ramona Dolan, Patrick Meghen and Mike Claffey to discuss the marketing plans for our new Solvency II Compliance Assessment Tool. Over the last number of years we assisted over 30 clients in assessing their readiness for Solvency II with a clever and easy to use self-assessment spreadsheet tool. Following the implementation of Solvency II we have teamed up with ViClarity, a leading compliance software developer, to produce an innovative cloud-based compliance assessment tool. We are very excited about the tool as we feel it will really help clients to meet the significant challenge of assessing and demonstrating compliance with the many requirements of Solvency II in a controlled and user-friendly way. Today we are reviewing the final brochure for the product and planning our client contact strategy.

3.30pm: I dial in to a conference call of the Milliman technology committee. This committee brings together IT professionals and practice leaders from a number of Milliman offices to address IT issues across the global organisation. It’s a critically important committee for our 3,200 employees worldwide, given the current global challenges in relation to cyber risk and IT security. It’s something we have to get right and therefore something that Milliman takes very seriously across the organisation. The key topics today are a further strengthening of the Information Technology Security policy and a review of the effectiveness of a new online cyber-security training programme.

5.00pm: I’m back at my desk where I can catch up on events in the office over the day. It’s still a hive of activity with a number of client projects running in parallel. When Colm Fagan recruited me in the late 1990s there were just a handful of employees here. Now with 35 consultants, I’m constantly reminded of how far we have come and constantly impressed by the skills and talent of the younger generation coming through. There’s time for me to catch up on action points from our most recent management meeting before a short 5.30 call to plan the agenda for a meeting of Milliman’s European Practice Leaders in London later this month.

6.00pm: I normally try to get out of the office by about 6pm so I can enjoy some family time before Carlos goes to bed. The weather is beautiful today so I enjoy a sunny and dry cycle home. There is time to throw a rugby ball around the back garden before dinner (Carlos is Leinster mad!). Despite loving the twin challenges of client work and running a busy actuarial consultancy, this is undoubtedly my favourite part of the day. I often have work events in the evening time - sometimes dinner events or Society of Actuaries evening meetings. Tonight is a welcome night off, though I still have quite a few emails to catch up on that I didn’t get to over the course of the day. Once Carlos is tucked up in bed I spend some time reading papers for my first meeting tomorrow - the reinsurance committee of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland. If I can get through the papers in reasonable time I can reward myself with an hour of TV before bed. Now, what to choose, Tonight with Vincent Brown or First Dates Ireland?